Journalists Roundtable

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Local reporters review the week’s top stories.

Ted Simons: Good evening and welcome to "Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. Joining me tonight are Casey Newton of "The Arizona Republic," Howard Fischer of Capitol Media Services, and Mike Sunnucks of "The Business Journal." The first court hearing for Senate Bill 1070 is in the books. What went down?

Mike Sunnucks: The first challenge that got heard was the Phoenix Police officer challenging 1070 that will force him to discriminate against Hispanic folks and may cost him his job. One of the more interesting challenges that are out there. The governor's folks disagree and say there's safe guards against racial profiles. And there's a lot of due process and whether the federal government has the authority to enforce immigration but this one, not much happening. But we'll see a lot more coming down the pike.

Howard Fischer: One of the issues is who has standing to challenge the law. Probably the United States government has authority to challenge the law in terms of supremacy. This is a Phoenix cop and in the case of the Phoenix cop, on one hand he's told he's supposed to enforce this law that he believes is unconstitutional because it's racial profiling and violating the federal government supremacy clause and on the other hand, he has said publicly I will not enforce the law because of the fact I believe it's unconstitutional and his attorney says now he's going to lose his job and he has a constitutional right to his job. The judge -- I don't know if the judge is going to buy that. She's going to say that's a speculative thing and this is critical because as you know, to get an injunction, you have to prove actual harm.

Mike Sunnucks: Same with the discrimination laws. People say this law is going to discriminate against me, It hasn't discriminated against him yet. It hasn't gone into effect yet. So that argument is going to be thrown out right there. The openents of the law are just throwing spaghetti against the wall to see what sticks. All they need is one of the challenges to stick.

Casey Newton: The argument that the cop is making he faces imminent harm, he's going to be sued and for that reason, the law should have an injunction put up against it.

Ted Simons: It's an interesting point regarding the racial profiling as opposed to the federal suit, which has to do with supremacy things you can debate and perhaps slap an injunction on now as opposed to something that has to show harm which you can't show it until it goes into effect.

Howard Fischer: There are two kind of lawsuits. Number one, a facial challenge. There's no way this law can be implemented in a way that's constitutional. No how, no way. You can't twist it, you can't reinterpret it. The other is what these seem to be more of, as applied case. The way the law is being applied is causing racial discrimination and the "Hobson" choice that this officer has and that comes down to the question, do they have standing at this point?

Ted Simons: Atmosphere at the courthouse? A lot of yelling and shouting?

Mike Sunnucks: It was 115 degrees and the number of protesters was low. There were a lot more media and security folks who opted to wear black. They looked strong and intimidating, but looked hot. There was a handful of protesters on each side and tons of media. It was sweltering, I think one of the attorneys should move it to San Diego.

Ted Simons: You think so?

Mike Sunnucks: It would be good for everybody.

Howard Fischer: As much national media we had, wait until next week. Those are the two big cases. The first is the one brought by the ACLU and a labor defense organization for Hispanics. That's going to be heard Thursday morning. And then the afternoon, the judge is going to have another group of lawyers from the Department of Justice to say, excuse me, Your Honor, put this on hold. Now, the clock is running. That hearing is on the 22nd, and this law takes effect 12:01 on the 29th.

Ted Simons: We've been getting calls from the national media outlets, what's going on? How can we work together? National attention on this is huge.

Casey Newton: Absolutely, this has been one of the defining stories of the summer. Next to this and the oil spill, I think this is where a lot of the attention has gone and the reason is because it's become such a big campaign issue in so many campaigns. You're seeing candidates in so many states coming forward and trying to get a piece of this 1070 lawsuit because they've seen what it did for Jan Brewer.

Howard Fischer: And beyond that, there's the big question, everyone, including the president admits, we haven't done everything we can to secure the border. And this taps into the public frustration. We have an unemployment rate nationwide somewhere close to 10% and obviously, "the illegals are taking our jobs". I'm not sure everyone is harvesting lettuce, but we'll leave that aside. This is plugged into frustration with Washington, not just Obama but with the bush administration for failing to secure the border. One state has stood and done something about it. And that's here.

Mike Sunnucks: Politically, If the Obama administration wins, that is going to inspire the hardcore right wing folks and get them going and show that the Obama administration isn't committed to being tough which they already think but it's going to confirm it and the polls show nationally and statewide that people favor Brewer.

Howard Fischer: No matter what happens on the injunction or the trial on the merit, Jan Brewer wins. If the law is upheld, I got rid of Terry, he didn't defend the law. If it is struck down she can said we'll take this to the Supreme Court, and I'll defend the rights of Arizona. She can't lose.

Casey Newton: Although if that happened Watch Terry Goddard come up and say, I told you so. I won the immigration lawsuits that we had before and you kicked me of the case --

Mike Sunnucks: he's on the wrong side of 1070, If he comes out and says I told you so, I'm with Eric holder and Barack Obama on immigration, I don't know how well that's going to play.

Casey Newton: He never said that. He said it was wrong for them to bring that lawsuit and they shouldn't do it. And if Brewer winds up losing, she may get egg on her face.

Mike Sunnucks: You say he's won the other immigration suit. Employer sanctions. Now we know that was U.S. Supreme Court is going to take up the ninth circuit court ruling and he may end up losing that one too.

Ted Simons: We've legal states backing the state, we've got the attorney general from Michigan going out on the limb on this. States are losing control of their borders and a couple of U.S. senators pushing for the U.S. department of justice to back off. All of this is going on. National attention is obviously on Arizona. What do you see in this as far as opinion? Most polls show that most Americans support 1070. Is that changing, waning, will that last throughout the summer into hard campaign season?

Mike Sunnucks: I think it's a winner for Republicans. They don't want to talk
about the economy. No incumbents want to talk about the economy or housing. They're saddled with the mortgage and tarp and the recession started under bush and voters still blame Republicans for that. It's starting to hit Obama and the Democrats. But they're the strong ones and want to secure the border and keep illegals from taking our jobs, like Howie said. It's a good hot-button issue and a contentious thing. People don't like people who are different from them and I think there's a lot of fear based in this. it will win through the fall.

Casey Newton: You talk to voters, look, I've got to show my I.D. when I get on a
plane so why shouldn't I have to show my I.D to a police officer.? To a lot of voters it sounds like a common sense thing. They don't understand why the Obama administration would try and stop it.

Mike Sunnucks: There's a split between white and Hispanic folks. The white folks say "why shouldn't I have to show my id" if The cop pulls me over. Hispanic folks think they have to show it because of the color of their skin and there's a huge divide that a lot of ANGLO folks don't understand.

Howard Fischer: Buz Mills tried to make the economy the issue. We saw what happened to him. Dean Martin, Terry Goddard tried to make the economy the issue. Put out a release, why don't we have more jobs? Hello?

Ted Simons: Let's go further with this. We've got the latest fox news poll, opposition to the lawsuit is two-to-one. Most independents by 30 points oppose the department of justice filing suit. That's a big impact on a lot of democratic campaigns and yet we had politically competent people in here and both agree that right now, 1070 is a juggernaut. But that in Arizona, people are hurting and around the country people are hurting and the economy is never too far away. They're saying don't count out the economy.

Howard Fischer: Oh, no, you can't, but you have to remember, at the risk of making a very bad comparison. Sometimes zealots and even dictators keep people stirred up by pointing to the evil folks who are doing something. To the extent, Brewer's people, and she's got good folks on the campaign, can keep the focus on the border. The illegal immigration. It won't matter what Terry says. And I'm not saying that people aren't hurting So far, no one has been able to get it off of that.

Casey Newton: Look at what -- look at what the candidates have done to talk about the economy. They've put out a couple of press releases. We've not saw anyone come forward with a plan to say, here's what I'm going to do. Instead of Dean Martin was holding press conferences about finishing the border wall. Buzz mills was trying to get to the right of brewer on immigration. If someone is going to make the economy the issue, they have to put forward a plan.

Howard Fischer: That's the problem. Even Terry Goddard, when you asked him the day he announced, everything else, it came down to, I'm going to create jobs. Well, DUH! Hello! Where's the plan. Where exactly are you -- how are you going to do it? Are you going to cut taxes here and raise taxes there? Offer incentives? Nothing.

Casey Newton: That's the challenge. If Goddard is going to pose a challenge, he has to convince voters he does have a plan.

Mike Sunnucks: I talked to one lobbyist. It's easier to stir people up on fear and demagoguery than to say, I want to do something about your mortgage. And if they don't do something about your mortgage, they're in trouble. Nobody in this state has said anything about the underwater mortgages. Voters don't hold them accountable. They hold bank of America and Obama accountable but don't make the connection that the governor of Arizona could do something.

Ted Simons: I wonder if we're sitting around in the depths of July and once October and November come around, is this still going to be the lightning rod it is? Is there going to be immigration fatigue?

Howard Fischer: It comes down to what Mike says -- they're going to keep stirring it up? And B, once we get past the injunctions there'll be the ninth circuit and then the appeal to the Supreme Court and then the motions for the trial on the merits. This will continue --

Mike Sunnucks: And Jan Brewer and Joe Arpaio talking about anchor babies and it's a winner. People are upset with the border situation and people don't like immigrants. Not just here, not just this state. And they're going to keep stirring that pot.

Casey Newton: Immigration has been the big social policy issue in Arizona for years. This did not start with 1070, it will not end with 1070. Anyone who says immigration is going to be over before November is kidding themselves.

Mike Sunnucks: You see the activists on both sides. Hispanic groups, the unions, the tea party groups. It brings attention, they can raise money. The attorneys like it. So it's a pot that won't stop stirring.

Ted Simons: Buz Mills out of the race. Another suspension, I might add.

Mike Sunnucks: It's like Maybe I'll take a break and come back.
Less than a week after dean martin, I thought his reasoning was interesting. I got into the race because of the economy and these things. Immigration has superseded these so I'm leaving the race?

Howard Fischer: In the case of Dean Martin, it came down to the idea that he just couldn't get traction on anything else. Now, more to his credit, he looked at the polls in January and December, when he first started talking, we were around this table and I made the prediction that Dean Martin would be the Republican nominee.

Ted Simons: We'll remind you of that many times.

Howard Fischer: The fact is Jan Brewer's ratings were somewhere in the teens. She lucked out. One being 1070, the other that her prediction that folks would support the tax hike. things changed.

Ted Simons: I'm talking about Buz Mills, basically saying I got in it for this, something else took over. I'm leaving?

Casey Newton: What really happened is he spent $2.3 million and his support was lower at the end of the campaign than it was when he started.

Ted Simons: Why was that?

Mike Sunnucks: He ran the same ads on fox news and cable stations, to try and reach out to the conservative base and kept saying the three or four Republican talking points. I'm not a real politician, I'll cut government and not raise taxes. Nobody knew who he was. People don't have good name I.D. here anyway. And didn't have any background. Not really in the Phoenix area that much and wasn't established in the business community. Nobody knew what his companies were. It wasn't like head of US Airways and Intel and had all of these jobs to back him up. They were the same ads over and over but they were the same over and over again.

Howard Fischer: Let's go a step beyond. he sat at this table and asked about his plan to help the economy. If you elect me in January, I'll tell you. End of story. Suspense.

Ted Simons: That's why it's suspended. [Laughter] Ok, so he's out of the race, the next day, behavior research comes out with a poll that shows the governor 57% of support with Republicans and independents, mills 12%, Martin, 9%. It seems obviously, that race is over. Is that enough momentum now to what Terry Goddard has to come out and start hitting the pavement?

Howard Fischer: Oh, god, yes. Terry was counting on sitting back until the end of August, maybe bloody Jan a little bit. I'm not sure Matt is going to be a major thorn in Jan Brewer's side. Certainly going to try to be. With luck, it will be good for us in the summer. Terry needs smoething, were back to this Where's the plan? Back to the same thing. Exactly, what are you going to do? He put out a press release -- why hasn't Jan created jobs? We what are you going to do, specifically?

Mike Sunnucks: That's a good campaign point. Economy is a big issue. What has Jan Brewer done? He puts it out on July 16th, a Friday. That's not going to give you the biggest bang for your buck. He needs to continue to do this and he needs to start labor day. He's got to roll everything on the economy and say, look, she's trying to pull the wool over people's eyes and focus on immigration and you need to think about pocketbook issues.

Casey Newton: And he has to put a face on it. A human issue. It's easy to talk about 300,000 jobs but behind each job is a person and with the immigration issue it's easy to personalize it, because you can talk about headless bodies in desert. The economy is harder. How does Goddard make that relate to people.

Ted Simons: A specific question for Goddard is another behavior research poll, Governor Brewer leads 25 points but among independent voters, 40-to-22. Independents are what Democrats are counting on. This has to startle the Goddard campaign.

Howard Fischer: Several things have startled the Goddard campaign. In Pima county, this is a man born in Tucson. Pima county is full of the squishy LIBs. Brewer is leading him by a larger number in Pima county. And he's neck and neck with her among women and that's nice as far as it goes. Trails badly among men. His big thing, I've got 30-point lead among Hispanics. Well, we know the lousy turnout of Hispanics at the polls.

Ted Simons: A 42-point lead, by the way. That's a big lead. Historically, Hispanics aren't showing up at the polls.

Casey Newton: That's true. And they also count on Democrats and that same poll says one in five democrats were supporting Brewer. If I was in goddard's campaign that number would scare me.

Mike Sunnucks: I think the fact that Jan is running even with women, the gender divide has men with republicans and women tend to go with Democrats and more moderates and the fact she's running even, that would be a big worry to his campaign.

Ted Simons: Let's get to the senate race. McCain and Hayworth. Another poll says Mccain is favored among Republicans and independents, 64 to 19.

Howard Fischer: Not sure I'm ready to buy that number. You know, that survey, June 30th through July 11th and depends on what's running on TV. You know, obviously, it's been a bad time for J.D. The pitchman, the Huckster, the whole routine. It's good to have $6 million for a campaign, like John McCain and J.D. has not been out there yet. But the fact is that J.D. has stumbled badly. He thought he could paint McCain as a flip flopper. Here comes Jim Deakin, saying, J.D., you're the flip flopper because you voted for earmarks and everything else and J.D. is stuck in the middle and hasn't been able to get the traction.

Mike Sunnucks: Now you see McCain hammering the Obama administration over immigration and now he's out there on this and he's going to be one of the voices going after the Democrats, the president on immigration, continuing that debate and that's a winner for him.

Casey Newton: We may see that trend where you see incumbents, instead of running against actual opponents, running against President Obama.

Ted Simons: We have to mention the highway speed cameras. Howie, you raced over here in celebration of the fact they're not there anymore.

Howard Fischer: Well, it was long overdue. Look, there is something to be said that people do slow up when they see the signs and if you haven't seen signs saying there's a speed camera and you're still speeding, you probably deserve the ticket. This was put through badly. Janet Napolitano shoved this through claiming for safety but she admitted that she though people would pay the tickets as opposed to fighting them. No points on your license, no reporting to your insurance. Just pay the 185 bucks and walk away. And thought, I can get $90 million a year. For the whole program, they ended up with 30-some million. It was put together badly.

Ted Simons: Does anyone care that DPS studies showed fewer accident?

Mike Sunnucks: In Scottsdale, they had bad accidents. People drive fast on that stretch of the 101 so people were supportive of it. When Janet put it as part of her budget balancing, when it became about money, everybody realized it isn't about safety; it's about revenue. And when you put it as part of the fiscal plan, you taint the soup.

Casey Newton: The truth is A vast majority of people just like to speed so they were going to do what was necessary to get rid of it. And it was a case of the laws not agreeing with the body politic.

Mike Sunnucks: I think people aren't as angry at the red light cameras. I think there's a safety issue there. When you set them up randomly. When you start setting them up randomly you start to lose credibility.

Ted Simons: Going back to Howie, was it ill fated from the start because of the emphasis on revenue?

Mike Sunnucks: I agree. There's a couple places where there's a lot of accidents and maybe places not well traveled but they made it about revenue. Many people believe that the speed enforcement in the areas is about revenue, And trying to pick up people and not trying to slow people down.

Howard Fischer: And it became popular to attack it. We had Carl seal, a state representative saying, I know, we'll take them down and put them on the borders to look for illegals. Carl, they're speeding and don't belong to the state. Well, we can do that.

Casey Newton: That wins everywhere.

Ted Simons: You can find a way. Quickly, a minute and a half. Some odd minutes. What's going to happen next week? Do you think an injunction is going to happen?

Howard Fischer: I think the judge will issue a ruling perhaps at the 29th, maybe a day after. I think she's going to enjoin at least some parts. I don't think all of it.

Mike Sunnucks: I think so too. I think the federal suit is the best to enjoin.

Casey Newton: Enjoined.

Ted Simons: Eventually, not quickly. Last minute, last day?

Howard Fischer: I think last day. You can never tell. Judge Bolton works fast. She could be issuing a ruling on a case that occurred earlier this week. I think she wants to hear all three, take a look and pick and choose. You only need one to win. It's like hand grenades. One of them to hit it.

Ted Simons: We'll stop it there. Gentlemen, thank you very much.

Casey Newton, Arizona Republic;Mike Sunnucks, Business Journal;Howie Fischer, Capitol Media Services;

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